Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Book Review: Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham (Veronica Mars #1)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Great mystery and characters
Cons: I missed Veronica's voiceover narration
The Bottom Line:
Missing college girl
Veronica keeps tracking
Great for series fans

Spring Break Kidnapping in Neptune

2014 has been very good for Veronica Mars fans.  The franchise, which hadn't seen any action for almost 10 years, is back not only with the big screen movie last month but The Thousand Dollar Tan Line, the first in the proposed series of novels featuring Veronica and her friends.  Naturally, I had to grab it, and I enjoyed the results.

This book is set a few months after the recent film.  The events from the movie are brought up a few times, so by all means, make sure you have seen the movie before you read this book.  You won't want to be spoiled do you?

Spring break turns Neptune into a party town every years as college students are bussed in for a week of fun and relaxation (read drinking and passing out).  This year, however, things are different because one of the college girls vanished after a party.  Since Sheriff Dan Lamb isn't doing enough about it, the Chamber of Commerce hires Veronica and Mars Investigation to find the missing girl.  Can she do it?

A tie in like this lives or dies based on how the characters come across.  In this respect, the novel is perfect.  I could easily picture the main actors in the roles they played for so long saying the lines their characters had.  The new characters were equally well developed and interesting, which is a good thing since we spend quite a bit of time with them, too.

About half way through, I thought the plot was looking a little too simple.  I really should have known because that always happened in the show, too, right before a twist came out of left field that changed everything.  I'm happy to say that by the time the book was over, I was very impressed with the plotting and felt it deserved it's place in the Veronica Mars universe.

That's not to say that I don't have a couple of nitpicks.  The first involves Dan Lamb.  I struggled the entire way through the book to remember he wasn't the Lamb brother we are used to dealing with in Neptune.  I get why Rob Thomas created the character for the movie, and I realize that means the book was saddled with him, but still, can't we have someone with a completely different name to fight against?

The larger issue for me was the narration.  The book is third person, and I found I missed Veronica's narrative voice from the show and movie.  Those voice overs were always fun.  Yes, we get Veronica's sarcasm, but not as much of it, and I would have loved to seen it.  Maybe it's because I normally read cozies, most of which are first person, but I really did find the narration kept me a little more outside the story than I'm used to in a novel.  Of course, when the more intense scenes came, I was still glued to the book turning pages as fast as I could to find out what happened next.

Overall, I enjoyed The Thousand Dollar Tan Line.  The mystery is great, and it's wonderful to spend time with the characters again.  You can bet I will be back for the next book.

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